It might be time for Boston Bruins fans to lower their expectations a bit headed into Monday’s NHL trade deadline.
There’s still every possibility they might end up with some offensive help like Taylor Hall up front, but it may be a more modest approach on the back end where injuries have forced the B’s into dressing 12 different D-men in this compacted NHL season. There were whispers on Saturday night that the Bruins are one of the teams in the running for veteran Detroit Red Wings defenseman Jon Merrill as the deadline approaches on Monday.
Friedman at the intermission says he’s hearing #NHLBruins and others are interested in Red Wings defenceman Jon Merrill.
— NHL Watcher (@NHL_Watcher) April 11, 2021
The “Friedman” is, of course, Elliotte Friedman during Saturday night’s Hockey Night in Canada broadcast. The 29-year-old Merrill has five assists in 36 games along with a plus-2 rating for the Wings this season but has been a solid veteran left shot defenseman for the New Jersey Devils and Golden Knights over the previous seven seasons. He’d be a cheap acquisition ($925,000) and would bring some needed veteran defensive presence to the left side where youngsters Jeremy Lauzon and Jakub Zboril have struggled this season, and where Matt Grzelcyk has missed 12 games over three plus months as a top-4 defenseman this season.
The cost wouldn’t be much more than a non-first round draft pick or a B-level prospect for Merrill, and that may be part of the draw to him at this point.
Certainly, the Boston Bruins would have had a need for players like New Jersey Devils winger Kyle Palmieri or Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman David Savard, but it’s clear at this point that Don Sweeney is loathe to give up another first round pick at this season’s trade deadline.
It’s something the Bruins have done a couple of times over the last few years and it’s left the B’s prospect cupboard somewhat bare beyond guys like Jack Studnicka, Jakub Lauko, Urho Vaakanainen, Jeremy Swayman, Dan Vladar and Johnny Beecher. Sweeney also seems hesitant to give up any of his top prospects in a trade as the B’s transition some of their older core group, and that really limits his targets at the deadline.
The 6-foot-3, 200-pound Merrill had career-highs of three goals and 15 points in 2018-19 for the Vegas Golden Knights, so he isn’t going to tangibly impact the Black and Gold’s puck-moving problems. But Merrill is a bona fide NHL defenseman that can defend and make NHL plays, and that’s something the Bruins haven’t always had this season with their patchwork blue line group.